Chapter 9 – Microsoft Windows

When referring to an operating system, Windows is an operating environment created by Microsoft that provides an interface known a s Graphical User Interface (GUI) for computers/laptops/notebooks etc. Windows eliminates the need for a user to type each command at a command line, like MS-DOS, by using a mouse to navigate through drop-down menus, dialog boxes, buttons, tabs, and icons.

Basics of Microsoft Windows

Developer(s) Microsoft

Initial release November 19, 1990; almost 24 years ago

Stable release 2010 (14.0.6023.1000 SP1) / June 28, 2011

Development status Active

Written in C++

Operating system Microsoft Windows

Available in Over 35 languages

Type Office suite

Versions of MS Windows

Microsoft Operating Systems for Personal Computers

The following details the history of Microsoft operating systems designed for personal computers (PCs).

  1. MS-DOS (Microsoft disk operating system) : Originally developed by Microsoft for IBM, MS-DOS was the standard operating system for IBM-compatible personal computers. The initial versions of DOS were very simple and resembled another operating system called CP/M.
  2. Windows NT (New Technology, introduced in 1993) is a 32-bit operating system that supports preemptive multitasking. There are actually two versions of Windows NT : Windows NT Server, designed to act as a server in networks, and Windows NT Workstation for stand-alone or client workstations.
  3. Windows 95 (August 1995) : Windows 95 is a GUI(Graphical User Interface) based operating system. It supports 32-bit applications, which means that applications written specifically for this operating system should run much faster.
  4. Windows 98 (June 1998) : It is a graphical operating system by Microsoft. It is the second major release in the Windows 9x line of operating systems. Windows 98 is the successor to Windows 95. Like its predecessor, it is a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit monolithic product with an MS-DOS based boot stage.
  5. Windows ME – Millennium Edition (September 2000) : The Windows Millennium Edition, called “Windows Me” was an update to the Windows 98 core and included some features of the Windows 2000 operating system. It is designed for single CPU or SMP 32 bit Intel X86 computer. It introduced the Multilingual User Interface(MUI).
  6. Windows XP (eXperience, introduced in October 2001) : Windows XP is an OS produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers.Windows XP comes in two versions, Home and Professional. Microsoft focused on mobility for both editions, including plug and play features for connecting to wireless networks. The operating system also utilizes the 802.11 x wireless security standard.
  7. Windows Vista (November 2006) : Its is an operating system by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs, and media center PCs.New features of Windows Vista include an updated graphical user interface and visual style dubbed Aero, a new search component called Windows Search, redesigned networking, audio, print and display sub-systems, and new multimedia tools including Windows DVD Maker.Vista aimed to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network, using peer-to-peer technology to simplify sharing files and media between computers and devices.
  8. Windows 7 (October, 2009) : It is an upgrade to Windows XP. It supports 64 bit processor. Enhancements and new features in Windows 7 include multi-touch support, Internet Explorer 8, improved performance and start-up time, Aero Snap, Aero Shake, support for virtual hard disks, a new and improved Windows Media Center, and improved security.
  9. Windows 8 (August, 2012) : Windows 8 is a completely redesigned operating system that’s been developed from the ground up with touchscreen use in mind as well as near-instant-on capabilities that enable a Windows 8 PC to load and start up in a matter of seconds rather than in minutes. Windows 8 will replace the more traditional Microsoft Windows OS look and feel with a new “Metro” design system interface that first debuted in the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. The Metro user interface primarily consists of a “Start screen” made up of “Live Tiles,” which are links to applications and features that are dynamic and update in real time. Windows 8 supports both x86 PCs and ARM processors.

Microsoft Operating Systems for Servers and Mobile Devices

Apart from operating systems designed for use on personal computers (PCs) and laptops, Microsoft has also developed operating systems for services, handheld devices, and mobile phones.

  1. Windows Server (March 2003) : Windows Server is a series of Microsoft server operating systems. Windows servers are more powerful versions of their desktop operating system counterparts and are designed to more efficiently handle corporate networking, Internet/intranet hosting, databases, enterprise-scale messaging and similar functions. The Windows Server name made its debut with the release of Windows Server 2003 and continues with the current release, Windows Server 2008 R2, which shares its codebase with Windows 7. Windows Server 2008 R2 debuted in October 2009.
  2. Windows Home Server ( January 2007) : Announced in January 2007, Windows Home Server (WHS) is a “consumer server” designed to use with multiple computers connected in the home. Home Server allows you to share files such as digital photos and media files, and also allows you to automatically backup your home networked computers. Through Windows Media Connect, Windows Home Server lets you share any media located on your WHS with compatible devices.
  3. Windows CE (November 2006) : A version of the Windows operating system designed for small devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) (or Handheld PCs in the Microsoft vernacular). The Windows CE graphical user interface (GUI) is very similar to Windows 95 so devices running Windows CE should be easy to operate for anyone familiar with Windows 95.
  4. Windows Mobile  (April 2000):  A mobile operating system for smartphones and mobile devices from Microsoft based on the Windows CE kernel and designed to look and operate similar to desktop versions of Microsoft Windows. Windows Mobile has largely been supplanted by Windows Phone 7, although Microsoft did release, in 2011, Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, a mobile OS compatible with Windows Mobile 6.5. that’s designed for enterprise mobile and handheld computing devices.
  5. Windows Phone (November 2010) : A mobile operating system for smartphones and mobile devices that serves as the successor to Microsoft’s initial mobile OS platform system, Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7 features a multi-tab Internet Explorer Mobile Web browser that uses a rendering engine based on Internet Explorer 9 as well Microsoft Office Mobile, a version of Microsoft Office that’s tailored for mobile devices.
Windows Structure

Desktop Applications

  1. Word : Microsoft Word is a word processor and was previously considered the main program in Office. Its proprietary. DOC format is considered a standard, although Word 2007 can also use a new XML-based, Microsoft Office-optimized format called .DOCX. It is available for the Windows and Mac platforms.The first version of MS-Word, released in the autumn of 1983, was for the MS-DOS operating system and had the distinction of introducing the mouse to a large population of computer users. Word 1.0 could be purchased with a bundled mouse, though none was required. Following the precedents of Lisa Write and Mac Write, Word for Macintosh attempted to add closer WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) features into its package. Word for Mac was released in 1985. Word for Mac was the first graphical version of Microsoft Word. Despite its bugs, it became one of the most popular Mac applications.
  2. Excel : Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that originally competed with the dominant , but eventually outsold it. It is available for the Windows and Mac platforms. Microsoft released the first version of Excel for the Mac in 1985, and the first Windows version in November 1987.
  3. Outlook : Microsoft Outlook (not to be confused with Outlook Express) is a personal information manager and email communication software. The replacement for Windows Messaging, Microsoft Mail and Schedule+ starting in Office 97, it includes an e-mail client, calendar, task manager and address book. On the Mac, Microsoft offered several versions of Outlook in the late 1990s, but only for use with Microsoft Exchange Server.
  4. PowerPoint : Microsoft PowerPoint is a popular presentation program for Windows and Mac. It is used to create slideshows and is composed of text, graphics, movies and other objects which can be displayed on-screen and navigated through by the presenter or printed out on transparencies or slides.

Other desktop applications(Windows versions only)

  • Microsoft Access — database manager
  • Microsoft InfoPath — an application to design rich XML based forms
  • Microsoft OneNote — note-taking software for use with both tablet and conventional PCs
  • Microsoft Publisher — desktop publishing software mostly used for designing brochures, labels, calendars,greeting cards, business cards, newsletters, and postcards.
  • Microsoft Office Picture Manager — basic photo management software (similar to Google’s Picasa or Adobe’s
  • Photoshop Elements
Windows Desktop
  • Desktop means the background of your screen on which the various programs run. The  computer screen is basically the electronic desk.

The following terms used to describe the Windows desktop:

  1. Icons : Icons are those small picture like symbols  on the desktop and inside folders that denote various programs, folders and sometimes sub folders also. Icons are small pictures that represent files, folders, programs, and other items.
    Dragging – If you move an icon on your desktop with mouse, this is called dragging.
    Dropping – After releasing it, it will called dropping.
  2. My Computer : In Windows, My Computer is the source of all resources in the computer including drives,
    control panels and data.
  3. The Recycle Bin : An icon on the Windows desktop that represents a directory where deleted files are temporarily stored. This enables you to retrieve files that you may have accidentally deleted.
  4. My Documents : My Documents and Documents are Microsoft Windows folders that store computer documents, program settings, and other files associated with programs on your computer. For example, when saving a file in Microsoft Word, the default folder is My Documents. Saving all of your personal files into the My Documents folder makes them easier to back up and locate.

    Note : Microsoft has changed “My Documents” to “Documents” in the most recent versions of Windows.It can open in three ways:
    1. From the Desktop, double-click the My Documents folder icon.
    2. Click the Start button in the lower left corner of the screen. Click Documents on the right side of the menu that pops up.
    3. Open My Computer and then select My Documents.

  5. My Network Places : My Network Places is a network browser that displays network connections a computer has to other computers and servers and is what replaces Network Neighborhood found in Windows 95, 98, and NT. In a home network setting, My Network Places can display the other computers, network printers, and other network resources. In an office setting, it can display computers, servers, and network printers in the users local work group. With the release of Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7, My Network Places has been renamed to Network.An icon for Network Neighborhood, My Network Places, or Network may be on the Windows Desktop and is also accessible through the Windows Explorer.
  6. The Windows Task Bar : It refers to the bar that is used at the bottom of your Windows screen (it can be moved) with the Start Button on the left and the clock on the right.The following are the main parts  of the taskbar.

    (a) Start Button : This button resides on the extreme left side of the taskbar. When we click on the start button then the start menu will appear.

    (b) Quick Launch Icons : On the right side of the Start Button, there are some little icons. Windows and Internet Explorer, when installed, automatically puts the icons of some of the very helpful things there. For example, with just one click on its icon, Internet Explorer browser can be launch from here. “Show Desktop” icon is a quick way of minimizing all open windows on the desktop at once (with just one click) and revealing the desktop.

    (c) Open Applications : The middle and longest portion of the taskbar remains empty until you launch a program. As soon as you open a program in your computer its name appears in this middle part of the taskbar.

    (d) Tray Icons : Next on the taskbar are the tray icons. These icons represent programs that are running silently in the background and will jump into action the moment it becomes necessary.

    (e) Clock : On the extreme right side of the taskbar resides the computer clock. The clock is actually a part of the tray icons. But the clock will be there even if you run Windows in safe mode.


  7. The Windows Menu System : A menu bar is a user interface element that contains selectable commands and options for a specific program. In Windows, menu bars are typically located at the top of open windows.

    (a) File : The File menu includes common file options such as New, Open Save, and Print.

    (b) Edit : The Edit menu contains commands such as Undo, Select All, Copy, and Paste.

    (c) View : The View menu typically includes zoom commands and options to show or hide elements within the window.

    (d) Help : The Help Menu for tutorials or helpful informations.

  8. The Windows Start Menu : The Microsoft Windows Start Menu is the primary location in Windows to locate installed programs and find any files or folders. By default, the Start menu is located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen and is accessed by clicking the Start button. Start Menu has following important sections:

    (a) Left Pane : The left pane shows recently ran programs or any pinned program shortcuts.

    All Programs : At the bottom of the left pane is the “All Programs” option, which displays all programs that have been installed on the computer.

    Search : The “Search” bar is useful feature allows to type in the name of the program or file looking for and have the results displayed above.

    (b) Right Pane : The right pane shows each of the more commonly accessed sections of the computer such as your computer, Control Panel, documents, music, and pictures.

    Personal folder : Opens your personal folder,which is named for whoever is currently logged on to Windows.

    Documents : Opens the Documents library, where a user can access and open text files, spreadsheets, presentations, and other kinds of documents.

    Pictures : Opens the Pictures library, where a user access and view digital pictures and graphics files.

    Music : Opens the Music library, where a user can access and play music and other audio files.

    Games : Opens the Games folder, where a user can access all of the games on computer.

    Computer : Opens a window where you a user can access disk drives, cameras, printers, scanners, and other hardware connected to computer.

    Control Panel : Opens Control Panel, where you a user customize the appearance and functionality of your computer, install or uninstall programs, set up network connections, and manage user accounts.

    Devices and Printers : Opens a window where you a user can view information about the printer, mouse, and other devices installed on computer.

    Default Programs : Opens a window where you user can choose which program in windows to use for activities such as web browsing.

    Help and Support : Opens Windows Help and Support, where a user can browse and search Help topics about using Windows and computer.

    Shut down (Turn Off) : The Shut down button allows to Shut down the computer or click the arrow next to the Shut down button to switch user, log off, restart, and sleep the computer.

Folders : A folder is a location that stores multiple files and other folders found on Apple computers, computers running Microsoft Windows, and other GUI operating systems. When in a command line, folders are referred to as directories.

Title bar : Title Bar refers to the bar at the top of an open window that will tell what the folder/window is (the title) and contains the minimize, maximize and close buttons. It can also use the title bar to move a window around.

Cursor  : Cursor is the symbol which is used to for action performing. The cursor changes its shape from the default arrow to various shapes according to the purpose it is serving at the time. For instance, it may form an I-beam shape when user selects a text in a document or a double-arrow when use resized a window.

Scroll Bar : Scroll Bar appears when there is some  information in the window than can be displayed and the information is more than that. This is usually a vertical scroll bar, but a horizontal scroll bar may display if the width of the window is too narrow.

Address Bar : Address Bar  allows you to navigate up and down a series of windows by double-clicking on a folder. The folder with the Back/Fwd Buttons in Windows 7 would allow you to return to the previous folder.

Dialog box : In a graphical user interface operating system, a dialog box or dialogue box is a new window that appears above the rest that lists additional information, errors, or options.

Mouse Click On Windows

A mouse has  two buttons  and most current mouse have a middle button as well. The type of click means the button you push when you click.

  • The left-click selects items and will be used most often. If no button is specified, this will be the one you use.
  • If you right-click on an item you will get a context-sensitive menu with a list of the things that you can do with the item you clicked on.

When a user right-click to obtain a menu, it will select the menu with the left button (generally just referred to as selecting or clicking — the left mouse button click is assumed).

Context Sensitive

This refers to the fact that the menu varies when you place it on different items :

  • If you right-click an icon on your desktop it will include the option to open it.
  • If you right-click on the background (desktop) it will give you options to arrange icons or refresh the desktop.
Files & File Extensions

A file is an object on a computer that stores data, information, settings, or commands that are used with a computer program. In a graphical user interface (GUI) such as Microsoft Windows, files are shown as unique icons that relate to the program that opens the file.

File extensions are the part of the file name that is after the dot in Windows. For example, a text file like readme.txt has txt as its extension.

Extensions Tell What Type of File

The extension tells Windows how to deal with a certain  file by identifying the type of file it is. By associating a certain extension with a default program to deal with that sort of file, you can open the program by double-clicking on the file name. The type of file is usually indicated by its icon as well.

Common Extensions :

There are hundreds of extensions, many of which are proprietary (e.g. specific to a particular program) and quite a few that are legacy (no longer in active use). Some of the more common ones are :

  • .txt – text file
  • .doc – Microsoft Word document
  • .docx – Microsoft Word open XML document – Word 2007 or later
  • .xls – Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
  • .xlsx – Microsoft Excel open XML spreadsheet – Excel 2007 or later
  • .ppt – Microsoft PowerPoint presentation document
  • .pptx – Microsoft PowerPoint open presentation document – PowerPoint 2007 or later
  • .html – Web page (Hypertext Markup Language) file
  • .mp3 – audio (music) file
  • .pdf – Adobe Portable Document Format file (Adobe Reader)
  • .jpg – JPEG image file (usually a photo)
  • .bak – Backup File
  • .tmp – Temporary File
  • .rar – WinRAR Compressed Archive
  • .zip – Zipped File

Dangerous Extensions

Some Windows extensions can indicate programs that can do harm to your computer. You should always be careful with files that have the following extensions, particularly if attached to an email message, because they can be used to install malicious or unwanted programs :

  • .pif – program information file
  • .exe – executable (program) file
  • .bat – batch file – can call other files including program or scripting files
  • .scr – scripting file – sometimes mistakenly called a screen saver file

Most users should not see any of these sorts of files attached to emails. While any of these could be legitimate files it is more likely that its purpose is to infect your computer with a virus or other malicious program.

Hidden By Default

Windows hides “known” extensions by default (Windows “knows” what the extension is — you may not). This was probably done to make it look less intimidating, but you should re-enable the display of these extensions (see Folder Options). Many file extensions are not safe to open unless provided by a trusted source. For example, if you see a file attached to an email, you may not know that the attachment is unsafe to open :

  • If extensions are hidden, Windows displays phonelist.txt.scr as phonelist.txt, hiding the actual .scr extension) allowing you to assume (mistakenly) that it is a text document and therefore safe to open.
  • However, as noted earlier, the .scr extension is not safe to open — especially when you are unsure of the source.
  • Even if you received the message from a friend, it may not be safe (or could have been attached by a virus on their computer or someone with unauthorized use of their email address).
Accessories in Windows

Notepad : Notepad is a generic text editor included with Microsoft Windows that enables someone to open and read plaintext files. If the file contains special formatting or is not a plaintext file, it will not be able to be read in Microsoft Notepad.

How to open Windows Notepad

Click Start → Click Programs and then Accessories → Click the “Notepad” icon.

Wordpad : Microsoft Wordpad is a free rich text editor included with Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and future releases of Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Word can create, edit, and save their documents as a plain-text file (.txt), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and Word for Windows 6.0 (.doc) format (Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME users only — XP does not support .doc). In Windows 7, users can now save their document in an Open Document (odf) format.

How to open Windows Notepad

Click Start → Click Programs and then Accessories → Click the “Wordpad” icon.

Paint :  Alternatively referred to as MS Paint and Microsoft Paint. Paint is a simple program which allows users to create basic graphic art on a computer. It provides basic functionality for both drawing and painting in both colour or black and white, as well as shaped stencils and cured line tools.

How to open Windows Paint

Click Start → Click Programs and then Accessories → Click the “Paint” icon

Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows
To Press
Displays the properties of the selected object. ALT + Enter
“Close the active item, or quit the active program. ALT + F4
Switch between open items. ALT + TAB
Carry out the corresponding command or select the corresponding option in a dialog box. ALT + Underlined letter
Display the corresponding menu. ALT + Underlined letter in a menu name
Select a button if the active option is a group of option buttons in a dialog box. Arrow keys
View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer. BACKSPACE
Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the Save As or Open dialog box in a dialog box. BACKSPACE
Copy selected item. CTRL while dragging an item
Select all. CTRL + A
Copy. CTRL + C
Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph. CTRL + DOWN ARROW
Display the start menu. CTRL + ESC
Close the active document in programs that allow you to have multiple documents open simultaneously. CTRL + F4
Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word. CTRL + LEFT ARROW
Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word. CTRL + RIGHT ARROW
Highlight a block of text. CTRL + SHIFT with any of the arrow keys
Move backward through tabs in a dialog box. CTRL + SHIFT + TAB
Move forward through tabs in a dialog box. CTRL + TAB
Paste. CTRL + V
Cut. CTRL + X
Undo. CTRL + Z
Delete. DELETE
Display the bottom of the active window. END
Carry out the command for the active option or button in a dialog box. ENTER
Cancel the current task. ESC
Display Help in a dialog box. F1
Activate the menu bar in the active program. F10
Rename selected item. F2
Search for a file or folder. F3
Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer. F4
Display the items in the active list in a dialog box. F4
Refresh the active window. F5
Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop. F6
Display the top of the active window. HOME
Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu. LEFT ARROW
Collapse current selection if it’s expanded, or select parent folder. LEFT ARROW
Display the shortcut menu for the selected item. Menu key
Display all subfolders under the selected folder. NUM LOCK + ASTERISK on numeric keypad (*)
Collapse the selected folder. NUM LOCK + MINUS SIGN on numeric keypad (-)
Display the contents of the selected folder. NUM LOCK + PLUS SIGN on numeric keypad (+)
Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu. RIGHT ARROW
Display current selection if it’s collapsed, or select first subfolder. RIGHT ARROW
Delete selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin. SHIFT + DELETE
Display the shortcut menu for the selected item. SHIFT + F10
Move backward through options in a dialog box. SHIFT + TAB
Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box in a dialog box. SPACEBAR
Move forward through options in a dialog box. TAB
Display or hide the Start menu. Windows Key
Lock your computer if you are connected to a network domain, or switch users if you are not connected to a network domain. Windows Key + L
Show the desktop. Windows Key + D
Open My Computer. Windows Key + E
Search for a file or folder. Windows Key + F
Display Windows Help. Windows Key + F1
Minimize all windows. Windows Key + M
Open the Run dialog box. Windows Key + R
Restores minimized windows. Windows Key + Shift + M
Opens Utility Manager. Windows Key + U